There are so many different opinions of what actually happened since Leo sold Fender to CBS. And even though we know what happened to CBS there are different understandings and misunderstandings of facts, events and times. Trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together is something you have to undertake your self searching for facts that have long been erased. And now for the sake of production, new facts and stories unfold and the Legacy get's buried under the dung. I only know because I was there and that makes all the difference in the world. When you read articles that Fujigen didn't have the CNC Lathes until late 1989 early 1990 to use the Fender cutting programing. You ask, so where did all those bodies and necks come from? And when you see the original 1982 JV Squier made exactly as the 1962 Fender Stratocaster Except for a back plate and small decal. You have to wonder whose parts are these. I know whose they was, they were Leo's over stocked warehoused parts sold to CBS that they didn't use at first because they wanted to change and make their own form of Strat starting with the large head four bolt 1967 we know Jimi Hendrix made famous. But what about after CBS sold to who owns it now. Because there are a couple of different opinions on that as well. Some say a rich young Investor Bruce or Sony Executives, and some say the employees bought them out. What ever really happened I only know one thing. The mystery of the Fender Japan 1980's will always be just that at this point especially as time moves on. Eventually Fender guitars will be made so cheap and without quality unless you spend a fortune. Other guitar names will come forth and burry the Fender name for ever and will only live in the hearts of us who remembered the original Fender Strat because we all owned one, or two real Leo Fender made and early CBS made American and Fender MIJ Strats and Tele's.
Simply put, Leo got ill in 1965 and sold his company, not the Fullerton plant, just the Fender name and the over stocked warehouse. There is some speculation on that as well. Some think Leo just needed a large lump sum of cash to start his new project after taking a couple years break to spend some of his well and hard earned money. Be as it may. Selling Fender to CBS for 15 million and coming back to start Music Man which didn't go off to good so Leo ventured building G&L with his life long friend and partner and co-designer George Fullerton. Mean while CBS found out the guitar building business wasn't as easy as it looked and changing numbers on a CNC computer Lathe using unskilled labor was even tougher. After some early successes and some latter disasters because of the end of the Viet Nam war and the fall of the Hippie acid rock experience, not to mention some of Rocks biggest legends over dosing from Jimi Hendrix, to Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin. Caused a great depression in Rocks hall of fame and along with that went the selling of the famous guitars that made them, The Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. Then came the dry period of searching for new music, ugh! I remember those days from forming singing groups to Disco and Staying Alive...Rock and Roll was on the skids. And no body was buying CBS Stratocaster's that were now being produced so bad, Musicians were buying Les Paul's and other brands. What was CBS to do. There over head was bigger then there Stock. They were forced to seek cheap labor from Japan who has been mimicking the guitars since the early sixties. So an effort to save the company was made and finding the perfect Japanese company wasn't. Fujigen Gakki who has been a forefront leader in copy cat Strats was the right choice in many ways. Other then contacts with Gotoh a Japanese Pickup and guitar Parts maker and Schaller stepping in when things picked up mid 80's. A plan was devised. Except Fujigen wasn't going to spend billions on all new machines to accommodate the difference in cuts between American guitars and Japanese guitars because of years of Suit threats by American Guitar makers. Gakkis own Greco had problems from Gibson when they introduced the single bolt neck on they're Les Paul copies and like wise with Ibanez Strat and Tele copies. So the only solution was to get all the Leo Fender made body plugs out of the warehouse Leo sold to CBS and export them. Bare with no configurations after the beginning years with the JV guitars were widely excepted by American musicians CBS Fender gave card blanche to Fujigen to make em as he saw them. And Fujigen Gakki did a great job. Counter sinking the back cover plates and inventing new configurations and coming out with different guitars then we ever dreamed. Continued.
The Making of the finest guitars every built by Fender even impressed Leo Clarence Fender himself while in an article got caught saying, " the Japanese Fender guitar is built better then any he ever built". Whether Leo was saying that to slap CBS in the face or really meant it.. and it is this writer's opinion that he did mean it. Because Japan has always been a leader in quality control in everything from watches to cameras to automobiles. Their Name has been number one for years from Toyota to Nikon, to Seiko. In every piece of electronics is the Nippon micro chip from every brand made computer to you name it, even today. A small Empire built on the Samurai to the Mitsubishi planes that bombed Pearl Harbor and then became a Big Screen TV in the 80's. They still took over the world only to find devastation in natural catastrophe . I play a 1980's Fender Japan Stratocaster since my first in 1983 with a SQ Squier that was the best Fender Stratocaster I ever played and owned even though I had early sixties American Strat's with three way switches and C profile necks. Between the Craftsmanship the D profile neck with the 12 inch radius over the 7.25 and 9.5. And the Gotoh Alnico Pickups and the boxed in dustless switches. I find the 1980's Japanese guitars that are still to this day playing while others from the same era are gone. And then in the mid 1980's with the German made Fender System One Bridge. There has never and never been a better bridge made. Not one has out lived it. Fujigen Gakki with the minimal resorces once again out did them selfs. This writer's opinion is when you buy a Fender Japanese 80's Strat or Telecaster, you are playing not only a piece of Leo Fender History, But Leo Fender's made pre 65 plugs Fuji modified into a great playing machine. Thank you for your time... Rock On papatom
Introducing the Strat Plus, Super Strat's and Tele's. HSS configurations, Switches everywhere, mini toggles turning pickups on and off. The time saved from not having to go into building production which takes allot of time. Wood Kilning buying grades of wood, sorting. Now Fujigen can concentrate on what type of new Strats and Tele's to make. The 27-4400 single Humbucker model with the 24.5 neck length and Gibson sized Humbucker with ring was no accident. They had to see haw they could fit all three pickups on board. Fujigen was making Fenders so fast because of CBS demand. CBS was really in a tiff coming out with fewer and fewer guitars they depended on Japan more and more. So of course more models were built to wet the spoiled American 50's baby boomers appetites. And the more models that were being made at a very affordable price for all. The more they needed. Till finally CBS production had to switch gears to keep employees working with the shortage of woods, Ash and Alder. And the expense of such woods really bounding CBS. American Swamp Ash, Bass Wood and at the end even Balsa wood. Blaming Japan for the new woods as well guitars were sold even cheaper. But the quality of Japan manufacturing from the Mitsubishi days didn't get Fujigen in any kind of tiff. They had skill and talent and worked with what ever CBS Fender could throw at them... To be continued...